Can anyone overtake Giannis in the NBA MVP race?

Nick Roush

February 12th, 2020

Halfway through the 2019-2020 NBA season, it’s clear to see—it’s the Greek Freak’s world. We’re just living in it.

Giannis Antetokounmpo won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award for the 2018-2019 season. He’s well on pace to repeat and is a -280 favorite to bring home the hardware. The rest of the competition is living on the plus-side of the odds.

Odds to win the 2020 NBA MVP award

Player2020 NBA MVP odds
Giannis Antetokounmpo
-280
Luka Doncic
+300
LeBron James
+500
Anthony Davis
+1200
Kawhi Leonard
+5000

Entering All-Star weekend, the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo is second to only James Harden in scoring, at 30 points per game. He also ranks fifth in rebounding, with 13.5 boards per outing.

Milwaukee's success sets Giannis apart

Antetokounmpo’s stats are impressive, but the success of the Milwaukee Bucks is what makes him stand out.

A small-market team without much history of success, the Bucks surprised almost everyone when they entered the playoffs last season as the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed. This season they boast the best record in the NBA. Even though MVP is an individual award, the players on the best teams get rewarded.

With the lone exception of Russell Westbrook in 2017, since 2006 the MVP has played for a team that’s either been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the playoffs. And Westbrook was the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson 50 years prior.

The Greek Freak's only competition is in L.A.

If you want to find any value outside of Antetokounmpo, you must look west, to the City of Angels. Luka Doncic was fun for a moment, but the only other MVP contenders are in Los Angeles, where the Clippers and the Lakers will fight for the top seed in Western Conference.

The best longshot lies with the Unibrow. Anthony Davis has been nothing short of spectacular. He has averaged 26.5 points per game (ninth in the NBA), 9.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks (third in the NBA) in his first season as a Laker. Kawhi Leonard has scored a lot of points, but he doesn’t create similar stunning highlights. It helps having LeBron James, the league’s leader in assists, in a Lakers uniform to drop dimes on a regular basis.